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C > COMPAQ > Portable II


This mini forum is intended to provide a simple means of discussion about the Compaq Portable II computer. If you want to share your own experience or memories, or add relevant information about this system: post a message!

  Click Here to add a message in the forum


Monday 26th August 2019
Oliver Molini (USA)

I was having trouble booting MS-DOS 6.20 from a 360k floppy, as it would just reset on bootup right after displaying the "Staring MS-DOS" message. I think the problem is caused by the dual-mode CGA graphics card on the system. As soon as I disabled that feature in Compaq Diagnostics, and booted in pure CGA mode, it would boot MS-DOS just fine and all apps worked as expected.

Sunday 17th May 2015
MDOC7 (Virginia, U.S.A.)

I just bought a Compaq Portable II with 286 CPU, which has a fixed hard drive (20MB), which is temperamental because it''s not being recognized at bootup. In about 1990, I had borrowed a Compaq Portable (from work) with two 5.25" floppy drives but no fixed hard drive. I used this to write assembly programs. Now (5/17/2015), I can used this Compaq Portable II to read and run files from my old diskettes, which contains some of my work. I need a new hard disk for the Compaq Portable II.

It will run on MS-DOS versions 6.20, IBM-DOS 3.30, Compaq-DOS 3.31, but not MS-DOS 5.0, 3.2, or 3.30. It''s a little strange that certain flavors of MS-DOS will not work, yet IBM and Compaq flavors do.

I have the IBM Diagnostics for IBM Personal Computer AT diskette (version 2.03). And it''s readable on the Compaq Portable II.

I also need the MS-DOS 6.2 disks to install on my new hard disk.

Thursday 18th December 2014
Lucio Libertini

I''ve been trying to use the "send more information" form to correct the info I supplied ages ago (and that I forgot about entirely until I came across this page again and read my name), but it doesn''t seem to work, so I''m adding this post instead.

Ignore what I wrote about the versions of MS-DOS supported by the computer. I think I messed up while making the disk images, or possibly used bad disks$ the computer does indeed boot and run MS-DOS 6.22. Mine has it currently installed on the hard drive. Takes up quite some HD space, but it runs speedily. It''s possible to use drivespace compression, but when doing so everything involving disk access slows down to a crawl (the 286-8 is not a fast CPU), so I just dealt with it.

I managed to find a compatible 40MB Quantum hard disk (a ProDrive, I think - I don''t have it around now so I can''t check), but it''s a voice coil unit, and I like the stock stepper-motor drive''s delicious retro nature and sounds, so I kept that in.

Saturday 3rd August 2013
Larry Collins (USA - Texas)

I have a Compaq II in excellent condition. I bought it from a 90+ year old man who had it sitting in a closet. (He was a techno hoarder). But it won''t boot. There was no user manual and so I can''t decipher the flashing kepboard lights, which I believe used to indicate the problem. I THINK the problem is the boot disc. The 5.25 floppy that came with it is IBM DOS 3.30. The disc appears to be in godo condition, but I don''t think this version of DOS works with a Compaq II. Does anyone know? If not, any idea where I can get a 5.25" floppy with the RIGHT DOS version on it so I can boot the machine. I think 3.1 was the latest version that worked on this machine. Correct? ANY help is GREATLY appreciated!

Monday 27th September 2010
adam weisbrod

you remove the shell by sliding the side slides more open then normaly then remove 2 black screws
2 on each sides then keybaord has more screws DONOT BREAK IT OFF NOT A GOOD IDEA SINCE THIS HOLDS THE CASE TOGETHER AND THE HANDLE HOLDS ALL THE COMPUTERS WEIGHT USING ONLY 4 screws if you break the keybaord screws LIKE i Did now only two screws hold the keyboard and 4 hold the case and almost cracked the case screws on the slide door sides carefull not to overtightin the screws on case as not to crack old plastic to mutch..
ALSO there is a lot of torks screws not security screws thank god but they are none the less tork screws also the SCREEN needs 24V ac and 12V ac I think its ac anyway it seems resonable it would take 24V ac and 12v AC since screens are mostly ac!! but Ill remeasure to see what exactly it takes on the 3 peg 3 pin connector the rest is CGA but shows up B/w on green screen
HMM Arcade pacman on green screen cool
R G B synk and ground hmm 5 pins 6 signals cool that explanes the graphics card to the screen pin out all i need now is to get a nother thing w cga or use arcade signals and i can run screen using cga HMM I could remove drives and pcb and run a arcade pcb off the 12V DC and the 5vDC or just the 5VDC voltages and have a mini arcade machine protable cool!. this is only cause the screen is 15 KHz Arcade cga type REd blue green synk and ground signals.. (-) synk!.
anyway thats how you get the case apart the rest is using a torks bit and removing in order a lot of screws .. be care full not to break the dut (daughter board) off the tie wraps on the power mini pcb.
the reason the power supply is so complicated is cause it has screen 12V ac and 24V AC power on it..
the 12v going into the screen might be DC ill have to check.. if you live in the UK I siggest getting a USA computer back up 900 power back up box and running a 110-125V in to it then hook youre computers to these outlets but normal tube computer crt monitors plug into normal outlets not using the battery back up cause to many screens can kill battery premature witch could blow fuse on line pole outside! carefull do not over load a UPS ..

Monday 27th September 2010
Adam Weisbrod (USA St Lois Park Mn )

I have one of these and you can have two IDE WD drives and can boot the 360k drive from dos on a other machine take floppy drive with the harddrive and only connect floppy to big machine then format a blank 5╝ floppy disk in the original 360K disk drive as follows
from win98 win95 or win31 any dos from w98 7 to 6 to 5 format a:/f:360
then sys c: a:
then boot big machine from original normal xp drive leaving 360K floppy drive hooked up remove floppy so you can boot into xp ! then replace floppy you formated as 360K then copy cetup.exe file needed to get into c-mos then choose drive 0 type 41 then choose drive 1 type 41 and then ifyou have two ide cards choose drive 2 type 41 always pick type 41 unless you have the minisribe in witch you should just hook to usb to big machine cable and copy to WD drive 2gig to 20 gig work as type 41 then save push f3 and save then reboot remove 360K drive from compaq P II you booted to csetup from and then it will say missing operating system error as follows (ERROR LOADING OPERATING SYSTEM)
then replace floppy you formated as 360K w system transfered dos on it and c setup file and boot to dos on a:
then save type 1 2 drives or just drive 1 as type 41 for a 2gig wd up to 20 gig wd drive then save push f3
then reboot to a: then format C:/q/s
then copy a:$*.* C:$
donot overwrite
then boot to c:
once it boots to c:
make a autoexec.bat file then goto remove drive and put on xp machine using usb to ide or put as d drive in xp and copy away I copied ADV.exe and qwbasic and basica and copied a lot of old basic games i used to play a lot like eliza and adventure and bowling I want donkey to see how it was typed in in basic but cant find it and my machine only has 640K memmory lame huh but I will want to up it to 2meg if possible and if the chips are 256k i can change them to 512K and get 4 meg! but thats a pipe dream to upgrade the memmory in the proprietary compaq but if you need the c-mos file and a formated boot disk i can make on but you have to pay shippng and handling labor and Ill ship you one using media mail anyway my email address is if you need a 360k formated 5╝ floppy w boot and csetup file. then you can choose type 41 and put a 2gig or 8gig or 4 gig or 6 gig or 10 gig or 20 gig old western digital drive in and have 251M free to remove and put back into xp as d drive or win7 vista and copy files from here to play and relive the 80''s again.
I also have adv.exe and eliza basic I have basic but cant offer it nor can I offer boot disk here you have to email me and i can see what i can do but here I can not offer any Compaq Files or MS files but on email I could let you borrow my files and if i never get them back then my loss but I would have to charge return mail or you can send self stamped evelope to return from 55416 ST LOUIS PARK MN if you really need a boot disk I can make one for you . I could even use free dos but I would think Compaq would not care if i redistrubited csetup.exe since the machine is obsolete and I found NO sign of ot on since 80''s Compaq is defunct HP no longer supports dos machines SO I WOULD assume probably wrong but who cares I assume csetup.exe is public domain if its not I can borow you one copy of from mine but cant sell it and am not selling anything here just charging shipping and handling and labor for making a disk formated as a 360K disk witch is not (c)ed to make a disk is formated as a 360K thats a floppy drive type and Compaq is not the only company to use 360K floppy drives and you can use a non 360K 5╝ drive unit as a 360K but not a not a 360K wont format a 1.2M disk cause its only 360K but you can format a 360K floppy format using a 1.2M drive but you have to tell c-mos its a 360K drive then it works as a 360K drive and format a: /F:360k makes it format as 360k thats what the c-mos expects when it boots from floppy . you could boot to c as WD caviar drive w slave jumper and use drive c as miniscribe but that would be easyer to just boot to drive c as wd drive and figure out how to switch miniscribe to d or just copy miniscribe to xp and copy it to wd drive and start over w new fresh format on new drive cause the minis scribe drives are susseptable to shock and things getting stuck in stepper motor its amazing they even worked..

Tuesday 13rd May 2008
Bob Lee (USA)

I learned to program in Quick Basic on a hand-me-down Compaq Portable 286 when I was a kid. At one point, I even had Windows 3.0 running on it using EGA graphics.

At one point the machine stopped booting. I couldn't figure out what went wrong and was a little scared I broke it. After about two weeks of IBS and not being able to program, I finally confessed to my dad. He took one look at it, banged his fist on the top, and it booted right up.

Apparently, he had some experience with them from work and knew the hard drive has a tendency to stick.

Friday 12th October 2007
Docel (Earth)

Hello folks!
I have one of these beauties......and it still works!!!
Pity, the 10Mb HDD died ( and the 20 Mb too) but the CPU and the monitor works ( with CGA graphics card)). Great machine, it was!!

Thursday 19th July 2007
John Teller (Earth)

I built a very nice piece of automated test equipment into a Portable II. It had two full size slots and one half size slot. I designed and built three boards to test three experiment interfaces on board a satellite under development at the company I worked for. When a technician needed to test or verify something, all he had to do was pull the computer off the shelf, plug it into the satellite test port and boot it up. Once test code was loaded onto the satellite, it would command the old Compaq to start sending data over the three experiment interfaces at various rates. Regression testing was a snap.

I always admired the way it had been put together - I particularly liked the yellow anodization used on the inner aluminum chassis.

Wednesday 27th September 2006
Glen Millard (USA)

Hey - I remember my first job in the computer field. In 1989 I got out of the military and went to work for a little hole-in-the-wall computer shop in south eastern Ontario. I remember the day that one of the customers brought in the single FDD version of this product (COMPAQ Portable II - we called it the Luggable II). He wanted us to put a 20 MB Seagate HDD into it. We did it , but it was a little painful. I guess we were old school hackers. Ah - the fun of it all!

Thursday 25th August 2005
Len (Netherlands)

Can anybody tell me how I can remove the shell?

Saturday 5th February 2005
David (MO)

Jish you could probably find that on ebay.

Thursday 24th June 2004
blondy (netherlands)

you have to put in a bootable dosfloppy.

Monday 26th May 2003
Jish (new jersey)

Hey i just trash picked the protable 2 and it didnt have an os on it, well it asked to put the bios disk in, and i dotn have that. Does anybody know where i can get one?

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